GASPAR SALADINO in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD

All images © DC Comics. From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #71, April-May 1967

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD went through three phases in its long existence, and Gaspar Saladino was involved in each of them. At its beginning in 1955, it was a historical adventure series with features The Golden Gladiator, The Viking Prince, The Silent Knight and Robin Hood. This lasted to issue #24 in 1959, and Saladino lettered many of the stories. With issue #25, the book became a tryout series for new projects, most memorably The Justice League of America beginning with issue #28. At that time, the book was in rotation among several editors, and Gaspar lettered the stories by editors Robert Kanigher and Julius Schwartz. With issue #50 in 1963, the book became a team-up series for any two DC characters, but generally the superheroes. By issue #75 in late 1967, it had morphed into Batman’s team-up book, with Batman always one of the team-up members. That version lasted until the series ended with issue #200 in 1983. For this era, Saladino lettered mainly the covers. Above is what I believe is Saladino’s first cover lettering for the book, though it’s possible those scratchy letters are the work of Ira Schnapp imitating Gaspar, as he did occasionally toward the end of his career. I can’t be sure, but I’m calling it for Gaspar, who sometimes filled in for Schnapp on cover lettering at this time.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #72, June-July 1967

The following issue’s cover is definitely lettered by Saladino, deftly fitting his work into the small amount of space available, and adding texture to the word PHANTOM for added interest. I also like the different size letters in the last two lines tucked under each other.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #78, June-July 1968

Beginning with this issue, most of the covers were lettered by Saladino. He had taken over the task of setting the design style for the company from Ira Schnapp, who was retired in 1968, and he approached his new tasks with energy and enthusiasm. At first, though, his efforts were sometimes tentative. On this cover, GUEST-STARRING BATGIRL at the top is weak, but I do like the bottom caption with texture in the word COPPERHEAD to suggest snake skin.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #79, Aug-Sept 1968

I like his cover work better on this issue, the burst balloon is strong and effective, though the tail is not as obvious as it could be, and should have been curved. In the caption, the K’s are unusual and add interest.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #82, Feb-March 1969

By this issue, Gaspar had designed a new very wide logo that made more room at the top for character logos while making the book title more obvious. The rectangular word balloon to Batman is something he was doing occasionally, I’m not sure it works well here. The caption lettering is fine, but the box around it seems heavy-handed. Still, it all reads well.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #86, Oct-Nov 1969

The art on this cover by Neal Adams is great, but it created a difficult layout for Gaspar once the logos were in place. He makes it work by putting a sharp corner in the balloon tail and a straight side on the burst balloon. If I were assembling this cover, I would have moved the art down, but then the circus audience is cut off, so perhaps this is the best option.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #98, Oct-Nov 1971

Artist Nick Cardy’s more traditional layout was easier to work with, even with a large scroll caption at the bottom. Covering Batman’s heel doesn’t seem awkward to me, and the lettering has nice variety.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #107, June-July 1973

Artist Jim Aparo also usually made things easy for the cover letterer. As a letterer himself, he understood how to leave open areas for it. Gaspar was never afraid of non-symmetrical balloon shapes when they worked best for him, and I love the burst.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #117, Feb-March 1975

At this time, one new story was backed by many reprints, and the cover, with an already too large trade dress (logos, etc.) was broken into boxes and captions. The overall look is crowded and without focus, but Saladino’s lettering is all fine and has appealing variety.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #143, Sept-Oct 1978

With the book back to normal size, the trade dress is smaller and looks better. One caption promises “a new full-length novel in every issue” in addition to a backup feature. This is stretching the word novel beyond the breaking point!

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #166, Sept 1980

Here the trade dress is larger again, but at least the cover art is mostly one large image. DC was pushing the new backup feature both at the top and the bottom of the cover, and throwing that word novel around too loosely again. Lots for Gaspar to do here, and it did it all well.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #198, May 1983

As the series neared its end, Gaspar was still creating clever and exciting cover captions like this one, which adds unusual shapes to the word PULSAR.

Golden Gladiator, Silent Knight, and Viking Prince from THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #1, Aug-Sept 1955

Now we’ll look at Saladino’s story lettering and start back at the beginning. The book’s original editor and often writer was Robert Kanigher, and Gaspar was his favorite letterer, so he made him the regular letterer for the book. Ira Schnapp did the character logos, but the rest is by Saladino. I love the distinctive caption styles for Silent Knight and Viking Prince, but all this lettering looks good to me, even that crowded panel at the bottom.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #5, April-May 1956

Robin Hood joined the book with issue #5. I’m not sure if his character logo is by Schnapp or Saladino, but I’m leaning toward Schnapp. Beautiful scroll caption at the top.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #8, Dec 1956-Jan 1957

The character logo here is definitely by Schnapp. Saladino was already perfecting his approach to burning letters in the story title, and I like the large initial T in the caption.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #22, Feb-March 1959

This is a typically word-heavy page from The Silent Knight from the time, and it forced Gaspar to direct the reader’s eyes to the correct panels using arrows. This was not uncommon then, but never an ideal situation.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #25, Aug-Sept 1959

When the book shifted to new series tryouts, Gaspar was there to letter the ones from editor Kanigher, as here, with The Suicide Squad. The feature had six tryout issues in this title, but had to wait until 1987 to get a series. When it did, it was a long-running success now echoed in films. Again, the logo is by Schnapp, the rest by Saladino.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #28, Feb-March 1960

Gaspar was already lettering editor Julius Schwartz’s other Golden Age superhero revamps like THE FLASH and GREEN LANTERN, so he was an easy choice when they teamed up with DC’s other heroes for this revamp of the Justice Society of America. Top logo by Schnapp, the rest is Saladino. It’s interesting to see that the magenta ink of the background stripes seems to be printed on top of the black title here, not the usual order. Black should have been last. Maybe things were done differently then.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #34, Feb-March 1961

Another Golden Age revamp from Schwartz with fine lettering by Saladino. Writer Gardner Fox and artist Joe Kubert were credited, but colorists and letterers would not be until much later.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #36, June-July 1961

I tend to think of Gaspar’s use of unusual balloon styles as beginning with his lettering for SWAMP THING in the early 1970s, but here’s an example in Hawkman from 1961. The alien’s balloons are surrounded by amorphous shapes made of two or more scribbly lines. It certainly suggests a different sound.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #45, Dec 1962-Jan 1963

Julie Schwartz loved this idea of STRANGE SPORTS STORIES with a science fiction twist, but readers did not seem to. It had several tryout issues, but did not gain a series until years later, and was not a success then. Notice Gaspar’s dry-brush lettering on the word HEADLESS.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #61, Aug-Sept 1965

When this series became a team-up book, Saladino continued to letter a few that were edited by Schwartz, but he was getting busier now, and did not have as much time for new story lettering projects. The strange flower-broadcast lettering on this page is clever.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #77, April-May 1968

This was the last book-length story in this series lettered by Gaspar for Schwartz, as he was now doing most of the cover lettering, logos and house ads as well as stories.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #114, Aug-Sept 1974

When the book became a much longer one with lots of reprints, Gaspar was hired to do some of the contents pages like this one and other short features. The art by Pat Broderick left him plenty of room.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #116, Dec 1974-Jan 1975

This is part of a three-page promotional feature with a handsome Saladino title.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #148, March 1979

Gaspar managed to work one more long Brave and Bold story into his schedule for editor Paul Levitz. At this time his word balloons were sometimes very wide with straight top and bottom edges. The story title plays up the final word. Strangely, Gaspar did not credit himself, though by this time that was the standard thing to do.

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #200, July 1983

For the final issue, Gaspar lettered some pages with art by Dave Gibbons that were meant to look like a Batman story from the past. Who better? It’s interesting that, when he started, Saladino was using scalloped balloon borders like these regularly, but here he’s exaggerated them to make them seem more quaint and old-fashioned I think. The use of underlining for emphasis was rarely done even in Batman’s earliest stories, but it does give this an old-fashioned look too.

To sum up, I found Saladino lettering on these BRAVE AND BOLD covers: 71-72, 78-92, 94-108, 111-118, 120-122, 124, 127, 129, 143, 146, 148, 155, 161-162, 164, 166, 168-169, 171-178, 180-185, 188-195, 197-200. That’s 82 in all.

Below are the stories lettered by Gaspar with the feature names abbreviated after the first appearance.

#1 Aug-Sept 1955: Golden Gladiator 8pp, Viking Prince 8pp, Sea Rovers 2pp, Silent Knight 8pp, Laughing Arena 1pp

#2 Oct-Nov 1955: GG 8pp, VP 8pp, SK 8pp

#3 Dec 1955-Jan 1956: GG 8pp, VP 8pp, SK 8pp

#4 Feb-March 1956: SK 8pp, VP 8pp, GG 8pp

#5 April-May 1956: Robin Hood 10pp, VP 8pp, Hunting Hawks 1pp, SK 8pp

#6 June-July 1956: RH 8pp, GG 6pp, SK 10pp

#7 Aug-Sept 1956: SK 8pp, RH 6pp, VP 8pp

#8 Oct-Nov 1956: RH 8pp, VP 6pp, SK 8pp

#9 Dec 1956-Jan 1957: RH 8pp, VP 8pp, First Commandos 1pp, SK 8pp

#10 Feb-March 1957: RH 8pp, VP 8pp, SK 8pp

#11 April-May 1957: RH 8pp, VP 8pp, SK 8pp

#12 June-July 1957: RH 8pp, VP 8pp, SK 8pp

#13 Aug-Sept 1957: SK 8pp, VP 8pp, RH 8pp

#15 Dec 1957-Jan 1958: SK 10pp, VP 8pp

#16 Feb-March 1958: SK 14pp, VP 13pp

#17 April-May 1958: SK pp2-13 (12pp)

#18 June-July 1958: SK 14pp

#19 Aug-Sept 1958 VP 12pp, SK 12pp

#20 Oct-Nov 1958: SK 14pp, VP 12pp

#21 Dec 1958-Jan 1959: SK 14pp, VP 12pp

#22 Feb-March 1959: VP 12pp, SK 14pp

#23 April-May 1959: VP 13pp, Famous Sailing Ships 2pp, VP 12pp

#24 June-July 1959: VP 13pp, Viking Training 1pp

#25 Aug-Sept 1959: Suicide Squad 24pp

#26 Oct-Nov 1959: SS 16pp, 9pp

#27 Dec 1959-Jan 1960: SS 25pp

#28 Feb-March 1960: Justice League of America 26pp

#29 April-May 1960: JLA 26pp

#30 June-July 1960: JLA 27pp

#34 Feb-March 1961: Hawkman 25pp

#35 April-May 1961: HM 12pp, 13pp

#36 June-July 1961: HM 13pp, 12pp

#37 Aug-Sept 1961: SS 13pp, 12pp

#38 Oct-Nov 1961: SS 15pp, 10pp

#39 Dec 1961-Jan 1962: SS 12pp, 13pp

#42 June-July 1962: HM 25pp

#43 Aug-Sept 1962: HM 25pp

#44 Oct-Nov 1962: HM 12pp, 13pp

#45 Dec 1962-Jan 1963: Strange Sports Stories 11pp, 12pp

#46 Feb-March 1963: SSS 14pp, 11pp

#47 April-May 1963: SSS 14pp, 12pp

#48 June-July 1963: SSS 11pp, 15pp

#49 Aug-Sept 1963: SSS 13pp, 12pp

#52 Feb-March 1964: 3 Battle Stars 25pp

#61: Aug-Sept 1965: Starman & Black Canary 24pp

#62 Oct-Nov 1965: SM &BC 24pp

#77 April-May 1968: Batman & The Atom 24pp

#114 Aug-Sept 1974: Contents 1pp

#115 Oct-Nov 1974: Contents 1pp

#116 Dec 1974-Jan 1975: Contents 1pp, Dr. Fate & Hourman 1pp, Heroes Who Wouldn’t Die 3pp

#120 July 1975: The Beast That Battled Batman 2pp

#148 March 1979: Batman & Plastic Man 17pp

#200 July 1983: Batman pp4-19 (16pp)

That’s a total of 1,171 pages on this title, a solid body of work. Other articles in this series and more you might enjoy are on the COMICS CREATION page of my blog.

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